Saturday, July 16, 2005

Go Read Frank Rich

Instead of a scathing attack on that silly David Brooks I want to be cheerful and jolly today, and the way to do that, though perhaps in a slightly morbid form, is to read Frank Rich's most recent NYT column:

WELL, of course, Karl Rove did it. He may not have violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, with its high threshold of criminality for outing a covert agent, but there's no doubt he trashed Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. We know this not only because of Matt Cooper's e-mail, but also because of Mr. Rove's own history. Trashing is in his nature, and bad things happen, usually through under-the-radar whispers, to decent people (and their wives) who get in his way. In the 2000 South Carolina primary, John McCain's wife, Cindy, was rumored to be a drug addict (and Senator McCain was rumored to be mentally unstable). In the 1994 Texas governor's race, Ann Richards found herself rumored to be a lesbian. The implication that Mr. Wilson was a John Kerry-ish girlie man beholden to his wife for his meal ticket is of a thematic piece with previous mud splattered on Rove political adversaries. The difference is that this time Mr. Rove got caught.

Even so, we shouldn't get hung up on him - or on most of the other supposed leading figures in this scandal thus far. Not Matt Cooper or Judy Miller or the Wilsons or the bad guy everyone loves to hate, the former CNN star Robert Novak. This scandal is not about them in the end, any more than Watergate was about Dwight Chapin and Donald Segretti or Woodward and Bernstein. It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players.

Not mincing his words, is he? That's what cheered me up, that, and the good and sharp writing. The column gets better and better, and I don't want to give away all of it, but this must be included here:

Let me reiterate: This case is not about Joseph Wilson. He is, in Alfred Hitchcock's parlance, a MacGuffin, which, to quote the Oxford English Dictionary, is "a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops." Mr. Wilson, his mission to Niger to check out Saddam's supposed attempts to secure uranium that might be used in nuclear weapons and even his wife's outing have as much to do with the real story here as Janet Leigh's theft of office cash has to do with the mayhem that ensues at the Bates Motel in "Psycho."

Delicious. Also very sad and worrying, of course, but that is every day in the faith-based reality.


That I'm blogging on American Street today. This is a funny one even if I say so myself. Who else would say it?

I tried something new with the title. A rethinking of a word. This is always interesting, because we usually don't pay attention to familiar words. But paying attention can be strangely satisfying. Like in this case: re-minder tells us what we really do when we remind someone about something; we rewind the videos in their heads, we make them mind again. This way of looking at the word doesn't make me feel so annoyed. In the real world the word "reminder" is about things like forgotten dental appointments or deworming the cats or about promises one made in the first flush of feeling beneficient and which one would now love to forget.

Another interesting word to be dissected this way is "handsome": "hand" "some", please. Get it?

Saturday Hank Blogging

Cheese, please!

Here is Hank again, from a very odd angle. Her whiskers have gone gray even though she's not that old. In my experience different breeds go gray at different times in their lives, just like people.

And for all who worry about how I treat my begging dogs, Hank and Henrietta just had some nice yoghurt! Then they went out for an early morning pee and then they expect to be taken for a one hour run. I'm allowed to have about five more minutes on the computer before I get my butt bitten. So you know who runs the Snakepit Inc..

The New Tierney Crap Column

Such careful writing, for a change. But what he writes about is hilarious:

So far Karl Rove appears guilty of telling reporters something he had heard, that Valerie Wilson, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, worked for the C.I.A. But because of several exceptions in the 1982 law forbidding disclosure of a covert operative's identity, virtually no one thinks anymore that he violated it. The law doesn't seem to apply to Ms. Wilson because she apparently hadn't been posted abroad during the five previous years.

The endangered spies Ms. Wilson was compared to James Bond in the early days of the scandal, but it turns out she had been working for years at C.I.A. headquarters, not exactly a deep-cover position. Since being outed, she's hardly been acting like a spy who's worried that her former contacts are in danger.

At the time her name was printed, her face was still not that familiar even to most Washington veterans, but that soon changed. When her husband received a "truth-telling" award at a Nation magazine luncheon, he wept as he told of his sorrow at his wife's loss of anonymity. Then he introduced her to the crowd.

And then, for any enemy agents who missed seeing her face at the luncheon but had an Internet connection, she posed with her husband for a photograph in Vanity Fair.

Here is the picture, by the way:

Tierney believes that it doesn't matter if some covert agent is outed, as long as the letter of the law may not have been violated, as long as she doesn't really look terribly covert to him and so on. Everything that the administration has done is small fry stuff, not important, not to worry about. Nothing here matters. Look over there!

And what do we see over there? We see Tierney write about the behavior of Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson after the revelation of her identity. After the revelation. Now, this is important to consider! We should always consider the behavior of suspected crime victims after the deed has been done! Yes, that is where truth will be found. And how dare Wilson pose for a photograph with his wife! Without this picture nobody could ever have figured out what she looks like. We only knew her identity and where she lived and stuff...

Blame the victim, please! The only allowed victims in this country are conservative Christians and the current administration. Everyone else is "fair game" as Rove said.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Echidne Blogging

Possibly me?

No embroidery blogging today; I can't find any pictures right now. And the dogs looked at me scornfully when I suggested they blog. Henrietta went back into the air-conditioned coolness of the living-room and Hank splayed her legs around the fan here. She looks very funny, with her pink belly sticking up in the air and her snout in reverse looking like the snout of a platypus. But she's very comfortable. Both dogs are still shedding like mad. They will be completely bald by the time we get snow again.

It has been quite a week in my private (=human) life. One of those weeks when Life looks at you and mutters:"Oh, I forgot about you.." and gives you a kick to the kidneys. Then, just to make sure, you get another one into the liver. And Life goes on.

But the nice thing about weeks like this is that the next one is bound to be better! Always look for the silver lining, I say, while chewing on some chocolate truffles.

The picture above was sent by one of my readers. Sadly, I didn't make a note of who it was but thank you very much in any case. Though I don't actually have six arms, I'm pretty good with the sword. Also with knives and sticks and baseball bats.

A nice hug and a bowl of ice-cream really works wonders in most of Life's troubled times. Well, as much as anything does. Try it first. If it fails you can then try the swords.

The TGssIF Rove Edition

Murkier and murkier in the Plame Game. A very odd and poorly written article in the New York Times presents the Rove countergame for us. I had to read it umpteen times and I'm still not sure what the article is saying. This is very odd, given that the Times can pick the best of all the political writers (though it doesn't, of course, as Tierney and Brooks are in its stable). In any case, it seems, perhaps, that Rove's defense is that he didn't actually give the information about Plane to Novak but just agreed to whatever Novak told him already. This I do not believe. Rove is an excellent political operative, and he would never slip like that unless it was for purpose. Wheels within wheels.

Add to all that the legal questions about hairsplitting and so on, and I really don't know what to say. The Washington Post published an article which tries to clarify the Times message, but it's based on the same information so doesn't help very much. Or maybe I'm just a little bit tired of all this maneuvring.

I mentioned earlier that the Downing Street Memo affair is linked to the Plame Game through all sorts of unethical connections. Juan Cole notes that these connections can go even deeper and may have caused incredible harm:

The question is whether Bush played politics with terror around the time of the Democratic National Convention in late July, 2004. Jim Lobe reminded us at the time that ' The New Republic weekly quoted Pakistani intelligence officials as saying the White House had asked them to announce the arrest or killing of any "high-value [al-Qaeda] target" any time between July 26 and 28, the first three days of the Democratic Convention. At the time, former CIA officer Robert Baer said the announcement made "no sense." "To keep these guys off-balance, a lot of this stuff should be kept in secret. You get no benefit from announcing an arrest like this." '

In response to White House pressure, the Pakistanis were in fact able to make an arrest, which was announced during the Democratic National Convention. That arrest, of a Tanzanian named Ahmad Khalfan Gheilani, in turn led to the capture of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a young computer expert who had old al-Qaeda documents on his laptop as well as a more recent archive of email correspondence with al-Qaeda in the UK. Among the old data were pre-9/11 plans for attacks in New York and elsewhere.
The announcement set off a frenzy of press interest in the basis for then Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge's alarm. Either from a Bush administration source or from a Pakistani one (each government blames the other), they came up with the name of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a recently arrested al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan, and published it. But it turns out that the Pakistanis and the UK had "turned" Khan and were having him be in active email contact with the al-Qaeda network in the UK so as to track them down.

On August 3, the Bush administration released the name of Abu Eisa Khan, a suspected al-Qaeda operative in the UK who had been arrested. The motive for this shocking lapse in security procedure appears to have been the desire to trumpet a specific arrest.

All of these public pronouncements by the Americans infuriated the Pakistani and British police.

For the sake of three year old intelligence, the Bush administration had helped blow the first inside double agent the Pakistanis and the British had ever developed. The British had been preparing a set of indictments and pursuing the investigation, in part by using Khan. They were forced to move before they were ready. Some suspects escaped on hearing Naeem Noor Khan's in the media. Of those who were arrested, several had to be released for lack of evidence against them.

Muhammad Sadique Khan, one of the July 7 bombers, was apparently connected to one of the suspects under surveillance in early August, 2004.

If politics indeed was played here the pattern is the same as in the Plame Game. But it isn't a game, of course. Not for us ordinary people who just might end up dead in a subway car or an airplane because of such games.

Raisins - What Are They Good For?

I have always disliked raisins, those things which look like bloated fly corpses in food. I used to think that raisins are added to foods to make them less appetizing. Because eating isn't supposed to be that much fun.

But it seems that there are people who love those little crinkly things which call to mind rabbit droppings. What can I say? We have Bush and Rove, too, but it doesn't make them appetizing.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The CPB and Tomlinson; Reading Between the Lions

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB, has a new chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, and he is at least as frightening as the lions in the PBS's children's reading program "Reading Between the Lions", who will shortly be reading Bible stories if Tomlinson has his way.

The whole story is absolutely fantastic, from the very beginning when Tomlinson got the power to really make the PBS "fair and balanced", worthy of being made into a fairy tale for children. Tomlinson started by hiring, in secret, a wingnut researcher to do a study of the possible political bias in public broadcasting. This researcher, one Frederick W. Mann, then charged us all almost 15,000 dollars for a study of four programs in which he categorized the program guests by such deep and meaningful labels as "liberal", "conservative" or "neutral", or by their being "pro-Bush", "anti-Bush", "in support of the administration" or "opposing the adminstration". Without ever really explaining how he came up with these classifications. As examples of "liberal" and "anti-administration" guests can be mentioned Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and former congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.)!!!
This because these stalwarts of the pro-Bush camp said something in the interviews that wasn't completely uncritical of the government.

What an idiotic way of trying to define bias. A real study would have tried to see whether a particular topic for discussion elicits all the relevant facts from both sides of the political aisle. But such a study might not have been able to establish the great prevalence of liberals in public broadcasting. Funny, if one of those programs had contained a clip of Bush saying something self-derogatory, Mann would have labeled him "anti-Bush".

Tomlinson has not been discouraged by the hilarity his little study has provoked, or the recent questions in the U.S. Senate about how Patricia Harrison, a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee was chosen to be the new CPB president. Maybe he knows that the wingnuts are firmly behind him and that they really don't care if the PBS dies or becomes a wingnut echo chamber. In both cases they have won. Right now they seem more intent to cut PBS's budget than to support Tomlinson's efforts to make it into a clone of Fox News, but things may change in the future, so Tomlinson continues to lead the charge against all and any thing liberal.

His new frontier might be the Voice of America, which Tomlinson also supervises. In any case he has ordered all sorts of management studies to be carried out about the practices of Voice of America. If there is also a study about any potential anti-U.S. bias, well, we wouldn't know about that yet, would we?
A postscript:
In today's news we learn that Tomlinson will be replaced, when his term runs out, by a major Republican fundraiser, Cheryl F. Halpern, who believes this

At the Senate confirmation hearing on her nomination to the CPB board in 2003, Halpern expressed agreement with Lott after he questioned the objectivity of PBS journalist and commentator Bill Moyers.

"There has to be recognition that an objective, balanced code of journalistic ethics has got to prevail across the board, and there needs to be accountability," she said at the hearing. She agreed with Lott that penalties were justified when balance fails, although she acknowledged that CPB rules prohibit interfering with programming decisions. Neither she nor Lott elaborated on what sort of penalties they favored.

She contrasted that lack of authority to her role on the federal Broadcast Board of Governors. "Going back to my BBG days, we were able to remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news," she said, according to an account in Current, the public broadcasting newspaper.

It would seem that the gloves are off.

Your Daily Dose of Karl Rove

Like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" I hope that a post on Karl Rove every day will keep him at bay. I hope, but I don't have much real optimism about it. Why can't Rove go for a run or something so that he would look less like the white grubs I dig up in my garden, by the way? This was very mean-spirited of me, true, but Rove is a very mean-spirited little grub.

His major strategy has always been to smear the political opponent, to question the opponent's values, ethics and ability. To hint and imply that the opponent is lying, or breaking the law, or eating little babies for breakfast. Note the crucial words "to hint", "to imply". Evidence is not necessary for all this, and if it is needed it will be created.

This is how Rove has always played the political game and he has been extremely successful. Rove is behind the rise of George Bush and the wingnut revolution in this country, and his success has depended on smearing and not finding legal questions overly interesting.

And as this opinion piece in the Salon points out, this very fact may turn out to be Rove's downfall. (It is a good piece on the whole Plame affair, so if you want background information it's worth sitting through an ad if you don't subscribe.) He knows how to do politics in the media but this particular game is now in the courts and his strategies may not work very well with the judiciary, especially not with Fitzgerald who seems to take the law quite seriously.

But notice how the right-wing defense campaign is using the very Rove tricks I mentioned above: they question Joseph Wilson's competency, they imply that Valerie Plame wasn't undercover at all, wasn't important, was, in fact, a traitor to the American cause and Rove a hero for revealing her plots. All this is aimed at us, the consumers of media soundbites, and the countercampaign already seems to have some effect. The snag for the wingnuts is, of course, that who they should convince is the prosecutor of the case, and he is unlikely to be taken in by all these irrelevancies.

For irrelevancies they are. It doesn't matter one whit whether Wilson was incompetent or Plame unimportant. The question for the courts is whether an undercover CIA agent was outed, and all this other stuff is noise.

The case itself is intriguing enough. Why did Miller choose to go to prison? What, exactly, is she protecting? Greg Palast has some theories on that, though so do many others. Reading the various reports on Miller has made me see layers upon layers of subterfuge, and I no longer feel willing to make any kind of guess on her motives. Though it would be verrry interesting to know what she knows. Without lying on the floor of a prison cell with the cockroaches, naturally.

What is going to happen with the Rove debacle? We'll see, but this is something to keep in mind:

"Bush cannot function without Rove. And the GOP is equally invested in his skills. I expect that, if the pressure gets too great, the president will move Rove out of the White House so he can continue to use his brain on congressional matters like Social Security and tort reform while not having to suffer quite as much politically with Rove still sitting in the West Wing. But I don't think Bush will make such a move, if he can avoid it. His Achilles heel is his loyalty to his friends and it always has been. Bush will stick with Rove long past the point that he ought to have cut his losses and he will endure significant political harm."

-- James Moore, Co-Author of "Bush's Brain" and Author of "Bush's War for Reelection"

Goddesses Have No Sense of Humor

I say it first so that nobody else needs to: I do understand what is supposed to be funny in what follows, but the unfunny bits swamp it totally. This is the Bud Light advertisement that didn't make me giggle:

Some men flip through a catalog looking for furniture
You look through a catalog looking for someone to clean the furniture

Background: *i don't do windows* (in vaguely stereotypical Asian accent)

Nothing says i will love you forever like a quick swipe of the credit card at the altar
Women wait their whole lives for a man to say "I do"
In your case "I do... agree to pay the sum of 3000 American dollars"
So crack open a bottle of Bud Light oh Catalog Casanova
Your spouse may be full price
But you'll always be our better half

It should have had a crack about how the Bud Light will come handy when the guy is digging the grave for this bride while waiting to order the next one. But I like the definition of marriage: someone to clean the furniture.

You can listen to the ad by going to, clicking on Men of Genius, then Radio Ads, and then Mr. Mail Order Bride Orderer.
Props to Allie

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ship Deserting the Rats?

Looks like Rove might become a faded memory:

President Bush said on Wednesday he would withhold judgment for now on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in a brewing controversy over who leaked a CIA agent's identity

I may be too optimistic, but usually Bush is very firm in support of his henchmen and henchwomen, so this looks like he's dropping Rove. On the other hand, the wingnut countercampaign has started. Still, keep the popcorn out.

Asking for Advice on O'Connor's Replacement

The White House is eager to consult about who the best new Supreme might be. The Democrats want a moderate, the wingnuts want Attila the Hun:

While Democrats were clamoring for a nominee who could draw broad support, a leading conservative group came out against the idea of such a "consensus" pick.

"In this case, 'consensus' would mean compromise," said an e-mail message distributed Tuesday by Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and one of four conservative leaders who met with Mr. Card to discuss support for the president's eventual nominee. Mr. Sekulow encouraged recipients to sign an Internet petition against a consensus candidate.

Of course, Jerry Falwell is also being consulted. After all, he was the first one to tell us that it was the fault of the ACLU and the feminists that 9/11 happened. So his sage opinion is eagerly sought:

It is not just Democrats that the White House is seeking out for ideas. The Bush administration has also been consulting with its political allies outside the Congress.

"Someone from the White House called me yesterday, asking for any input I might have," said the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority and chancellor of Liberty University in Virginia.

Mr. Falwell said he declined to offer advice, telling the White House staff member that, because of Mr. Bush's track record appointing conservative judges, "I am willing to sit back and trust him and pray for him."

And of course women are consulted! In the person of Laura Bush who is just the right woman to give a wifely angle to all this.

The Further Adventures of Walrus-Face

The new symbol of the United State in the U.N., if John Bolton gets his way:

Two months ago, while his confirmation was in trouble, Bolton began efforts to double the office space reserved within the State Department for the ambassador to the United Nations, according to three senior department officials who were involved in handling the request.

Previous ambassadors have kept a small staff in Washington in a modest suite. Bolton told several colleagues he needs more space and a larger staff in Washington because, if confirmed, he intends to spend more time here than his predecessors did.

"Bolton isn't going to sit in New York while policy gets made in Washington," the administration source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the source lacks authorization to discuss this on the record. But Bolton's efforts to obtain more space have encountered resistance. Two colleagues said Bolton's request was inappropriate because he had not been confirmed.

And there are rumors that Bush will make a recess appointment of Bolton, sometime after July 30. That's the way to unite the nation, it seems.

Women's Review of Books

Christine at ms. musings (another excellent feminist blog on culture) reports that Women's Review of Books will be back in January. I'm glad to hear that. I miss its intelligence and erudition.

In recent years many feminist publications have ceased to exist. The main reason is probably in the fact that the mainstream sources have included some of the arguments that feminists have made and that the coverage of women's issues and women in general has increased from what it was thirty years ago. (Though it's still possible for Umberto Eco to write books in which women don't exist, much, and to have them generously praised. Ehem.).

The alternative explanation for the death of feminist presses and magazines is that the Second Wave of feminism is over and that we are now living in the Backlash Years. Such years have always followed a feminist surge in history, and today is no different. Both my explanations are probably true: the world is a little bit fairer to women and feminism is now a four-letter word. So.

"I'm not a feminist, but..." is the new flavor of the month, both here in the U.S. and in Europe. The trick is to call feminism something else, like womanism or humanism, and to hope that nobody catches on that you're really defending the equal rights of women. Because if you get caught you will be doomed to an eternity of armpit hair, combat boots and nobody ever loving you again. This is a sad commentary on how far we still have to go, isn't it?

In any case, magazines like the Women's Review of Books are still needed. The mainstream literary magazines are not going to publish a feminist article more than once a year, at most, if even that, and then they are going to seek balance by publishing four or five or seven articles condemning political correctness. For this reason it is refreshing and restful to read something that is wholly dedicated to feminism, even if the arguments with anti-feminists are replaced by bickerings between types of feminists. It is a way of learning, of honing ones own ideas and of adopting new ones.

If you fancy doing that, make sure to subscribe to the Review as well as other feminist magazines.

A Timeline of Rove's Career

I had high hopes when I saw this AP article about Karl Rove's life, but it turns out to be almost totally whitewashed. Nothing about what he did as a college student to cause trouble for an opposing candidate, and though the bugging-his-own-office-to-cast-aspersions-to-his-opponents was mentioned, nothing about all the other people he destroyed in Texas. For those you need to go and see Bush's Brain.

Still, the last bits of the timelime are interesting:

--Sept 29, 2003: The White House dismisses as "ridiculous" the suggestion Rove was involved in disclosing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

--June 10, 2004: Bush pledges to fire anyone in his administration found to have been a leaker in the Plame case.

--Oct. 16, 2004: Rove testifies before grand jury investigating the leak. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, says prosecutors have assured Rove he is not a target of the criminal probe.

--Nov. 3, 2004: Bush wins re-election with Rove as his chief political adviser.

--July 10, 2005: Newsweek reports that in 2003 Rove talked to Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about Plame, but did not identify her by name. Cooper later writes a story in which he uses Plame's name.

--July 11: Under intense questioning from reporters, White House spokesman Scott McClellan refuses to repeat claims that Rove had nothing to do with the leak.

--July 12: Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., say Rove should be fired. McClellan says Bush still has confidence in Rove.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tying Threads Together

Like a spider making a web. The threads I'm going to link are the Plame Game and the Downing Street Memos (DSM). And this is better than Umberto Eco's theories in Foucault's Pendulum. For one thing, I'm probably completely correct.

What are the wonderful hidden connections, you might ask? They are not that wonderful or not that hidden, but they are very basic. Like the way one ties a simple knot:

First, there is the stonewalling and the denials. Nothing was wrong with the way the White House decided to go to war in Iraq, nothing. So the White House says. Never mind the Downing Street Memo which indicates that the U.S. was determined to use military force; didn't the U.S. go to the U.N. first? Never mind that they did that exactly because the British wouldn't otherwise go along with the military force option, the very thing that is apparent from the DSM. Nothing to see here, move along, please. And look! There is a white woman over there being bitten by a shark.

The same approach is now being taken in the Plame Game. Nobody knows anything whatsoever, and the White House has complete confidence in Karl Rove:

After two days of questions, the White House said Tuesday that President Bush continues to have confidence in Karl Rove, the presidential adviser at the center of the investigation into the leak identifying a female CIA officer. Meanwhile, prominent Democrats are calling for Rove to be fired.

Bush did not respond to a reporter's question Tuesday about whether he would fire Rove, in keeping with a June 2004 pledge to dismiss any leakers of Valerie Plame's identity.

At a White House briefing afterward, spokesman Scott McClellan was pressed about Rove's future.

"Any individual who works here at the White House has the confidence of the president. They wouldn't be working here at the White House if they didn't have the president's confidence," McClellan said.

Second, there is the fact that the Niger expedition Joseph Wilson was leading, the one that found no evidence on Saddam Hussein having tried to purchase uranium from Niger, led directly to the Plame Game. The Bush administration chose to pretend that the Niger link was a real one and used this as "evidence" for the urgent need to go to war against Saddam. That Wilson then stated the lack of any such "evidence" created the need to punish him by outing his wife. Hence, the DSM and the Plame Game are telling us different pieces about the dishonesties of this administration in the pre-Iraq phase.

Third, but certainly not the least important, is the way both these scandals tell us something about the ethics of this administration. The only real crime seems to be getting caught.

A Few Blogs to Visit on Feminism

Amanda on Pandagon is always fun to read. She has written recently on beauty pageants, but this post on anti-abortion activists is the one I link to. You can then read the rest of Pandagon, Jesse too.

Ampersand is discussing hidden affirmative action for men in colleges. Quotas, really, but this time around we don't hear anything about Quota Kings. I wonder why.

Lauren at Feministe has an interesting post on naked women and what nudity means, and is the place to go for hard-hitting news about misogyny and such.

Things like showing us that these t-shirts are available:

(The model is totally innocent here, by the way).

There are so many feminist blogs these days and I can't do all of them justice in one post. I will pick more blogs in the future, but you can go adventuring right today by going to these and then following their links to new heights of wonders in feminism.

More Roving

This is a good summary of the Plame game right now, and the questions are good, too:

But let's look at what we can conclude from all this:

· The latest news reports indicate that Rove is the source who Cooper was trying to protect until last week -- and that Rove tipped Cooper about Plame three days before Robert Novak published his now-famous column exposing Plame's identity.

· Fitzgerald has asserted in his court filings that testimony from Cooper and now-jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller is all he needs to wrap up his investigation into whether a crime was committed. So what Rove said about Plame would therefore appear to be either one of two things -- or the only thing -- that Fitzgerald is still trying to nail down.

· Rove and his lawyer's denials that he was involved in telling reporters about Plame now appear to be at best based on Clintonian hairsplitting about whether he literally used her name and identified her as covert or he simply described her as the CIA-employed wife of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, the administration critic that White House was eager to discredit at the time.

· President Bush and press secretary Scott McClellan's denials that Rove was involved in the Plame matter now appear to be at best based on the position that their responses to broad questions about Rove and Plame were met with narrowly constructed responses specifically about whether Rove leaked "classified information." Or is it possible Rove lied to them?

· And McClellan's frequent implication that, if Rove talked to reporters about Plame it was only after Novak's column had already come out, now appears suspect.

If Karl Rove, Bush's top political strategist, longtime friend and deputy chief of staff is actually indicted by Fitzgerald -- which now appears to be a possibility -- it would be an enormous blow to Bush's second term. Until Fitzgerald wraps up his highly secretive investigation, however, that's all just speculation.

So let's ask ourselves some more practical questions instead:

· Does Rove's current position pass the smell test?

· Taking into account Bush's previous statements about leaks, does this mean he now has no choice but to fire Rove?

· Did Rove keep all this from Bush?

· Or did Bush know, but chose to keep silent and do nothing?

I still can't quite believe that Rove would have been this stupid. Some cunning plan should crop up any day now, one about how all this is a forgery, how it's the so-called liberal media's fault or something along more Maffia lines. All that I have spotted on the wingnut blogs are true tinfoil theories: that Joe Wilson outed his own wife or that the outing doesn't count because everybody knew the name of Wilson's wife already.

Added: Billmon asks the same question about Rove's possible stupidity, and suggests that either Rove is hundred percent certain that he has covered his back or the whole thing is falling apart because Fitzgerald is more serious than the wingnuts thought.


Have you read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum? I just finished it. Mostly I was bored, but his idea of making wingnut-flavored theories about history appealed to me. The basic idea is to use accidental connections and pure happenstance to make up impressive edifices of deep conspiracy theories.

It immediately occurred to me that there is something Eco-like fishy in the fact that the wingnuts are all reading a series of books called Left Behind, in which the head of the United Nations turns out to be the Devil and so on, and that the Bush administration named its education program No Child Left Behind. See what I mean?

Clearly, the intent of the administration is to make sure that all children are given the values that would make them first to be vacuumed up by the Heavenly Hoover. And what are we going to do about it? Hmh?
Just in case I failed miserably, this is intended as satire. But I think that my smart readers could make up lots of similar and more interesting theories to explain everything in our current faith-based society.

Zell Miller and Money

David Sirota has a nifty little piece on this ex-Democrat and current foaming-at-the-mouth wingnut:

Georgia political analyst Bill Shipp reports that former Sen. Zell Miller - the guy who piously brags about his own integrity - essentially stole $80,000 from Georgia taxpayers upon leaving office when he was governor.

According to Shipp, who was quoting a WSB-TV investigation, Miller "pocketed more than $60,000 in taxpayer funds earmarked for entertainment and other expenses at the Governor's Mansion." Miller "also picked up a check for more than $20,000 for 'unused leave' - a sum to which he was not entitled as a constitutional officer."

Hilariously, Zell explained himself by "say[ing] that he was technically eligible to take the mansion money as his own because no one said he could not."

That's wingnuts ethics in a nutshell: some technical manual, somewhere, must tell them what is wrong. Otherwise it's ok to go ahead. I have had several righties explain that we need to have religion and holy books such as the Bible, because if there is no fear of hell people will just do whatever they wish, including mass murder. This makes me scared of the righties. If all that keeps them from mass murder is religion... In any case, the most recent mass murders in Iraq and in London were elicited by religion, not the other way round.

But to get back to Miller, I think that he just may have gone nuts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

White House Refuses To Comment On Rove

Scott McClelland went into pretzels in today's White House Press Briefing (the "Gaggle") to avoid saying anything whatsoever about Karl Rove's possible involvement in the Plame affair. It is really funny, as you can see by reading the transcript at Think Progress. Or check out the video highlights at Crooks & Liars.

I suggest some beer and a bag of popcorn, too!
And you might enjoy this photoshopped image courtesy of Morgaine while you read and watch the Gaggle:

Dare One Hope?

The Plame Game - Getting Funnier

Karl Rove:

I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name

That's true, in a literal sense. He called Valerie Plame "Wilson's wife".

Check out Billmon on this topic, also this recent New York Times article.

Silly Thought of the Day

Since there is a Bible Belt, are Bible Suspenders unnecessary?

I'm going to be on the road on Monday, so I leave this really deeply philosophical question for you to think about until Tuesday morning. Take care!

Feminism 101?

I recently heard a radio interview with people who commuted to work. In my anally compulsive way I automatically added up the number of men and women interviewed. The totals interviewed were six men and one woman. This is unlikely to reflect the actual numbers of men and women who commuted that day, but it's not uncommon to find in the media. There is something about us women that suffices in rather small doses to give the impression of gender balance. If you watch television sitcoms you frequently find similar gender ratios.

What was odd about this interview is that afterwards I remembered what the one woman had said extremely well and couldn't really separate the men's comments from each other. The woman stood out as a representative of a large group "women"; the men were interviewed as individuals and so what they said somehow didn't stick to my memory. It's easy to see how something like this could turn into a belief that "women" are fairly represented in all sorts of fields, perhaps even overrepresented, while the reality could be the very opposite, unless ones view of fair representation is to have one woman to stand for all.

I think this is what happens when a few women become famous in some field with lots of famous men. The few are now memorable as "women", whereas none of the men is specifically there as a representative of "men". The effect is that there are people who truly believe that women have the lion's share in all sorts of fields where they actually are rarer than hen's teeth. Or almost as rare.

Add to this the attempts to include more women in some reporting in the media. It's easiest to just keep on asking the same women to come to the shows and, presto, it looks like women are everywhere because their names become memorable and the names of the many men are harder to remember. But it's in reality a sign of the rarity of women in the public sector and our token status. Think of Hillary Clinton and how she is marshalled out all the time as an example of a successful female politician. Not that many others exist, actually, but the incessant bickering about Hillary makes it seem as if the world of politics is full of uppity women.

If my theory (which might well belong to someone else first, of course) is correct it would explain why so many anti-feminists are seriously convinced that we women are taking over the world and wrecking the Western Civilization. Counting the actual numbers here would be helpful. This theory also means that we don't have actual gender balance in a field until the gender of the women in it isn't the first thing we notice.

All this is part of a more general explanation I have about how women are viewed as an almost undifferentiated mass of "womanness" and how this makes women and men behave. Women are still defined by how they differ from men, on average, and a woman in any place where women are rare stands, first and foremost, for all women. Her behavior will be judged not as that of an individual but as representative of "womanness" consisting of fairly interchangeable parts.

This also explains why the mommy wars can be so vicious: if all mothers really are part of the same "motherness", then there is only one correct way to do the mothering and everyone not using it is failing.

I can't think of any examples outside the literary genre of romance where men are treated as specks of an amorphous mass. Women are treated this way much more often, even by other women, and the consequences are mostly not pretty. If we are all part of the total whole of "womanness", then whatever one of does will have an effect on the others. Hence the desire to police our sisters and the anger we feel when they appear to misbehave. And we are not wholly wrong in doing this: the media tends to see the deeds of individual women as applicable to all of us, and this is most common in cases where the individual woman did something wrong.

I believe similar patterns apply to some minorities in this country, though I haven't subjected my theory to a test with that data. What do you think about this? Am I ready to publish and become the successor of the famous feminist voices of the last thirty years or should I just stick to goddessing?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The "Roo"

Many happy returns to Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo! He's trying to reach a million visits to his blog on this day, so if you can, click on it and read.


Google this:
worst president ever

Bush's Judges

All the focus on SCOTUS makes us forget that Bush has been appointing judges all along to the appeals courts. The two hundred judges he has added to these benches are "solid" conservatives. Their decisions will slowly start affecting our lives. For example, NARAL points out that Bush nominated judges have been four times as likely to decide cases for the pro-life side than judges nominated by other presidents. And this is interesting:

On another matter, two of Bush's nominees to the D.C. Circuit are poised to have significant impact on a pair of cases involving challenges to the U.S. military's detention of foreign nationals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas B. Griffith, both just placed on the bench last month, were picked at random to sit on a three-judge panel that will hear the cases this fall.

Let me try to predict what they will find...

Political writing tends too often to focus on the very top. Hence, much is written about the Supremes while all the time, slowly and silently, the whole edifice below them turns wingnut. This matters.

The Plame Game Continues...

Today's Newsweek tells us that Matthew Cooper's source was Karl Rove. But the writing is carefully contrived so as to not accuse Rove of having done anything illegal:

In a brief conversation with Rove, Cooper asked what to make of the flap over Wilson's criticisms. NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the e-mail that Cooper sent his bureau chief after speaking to Rove. (The e-mail was authenticated by a source intimately familiar with Time's editorial handling of the Wilson story, but who has asked not to be identified because of the magazine's corporate decision not to disclose its contents.) Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip." Wilson's wife is Plame, then an undercover agent working as an analyst in the CIA's Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division. (Cooper later included the essence of what Rove told him in an online story.) The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger ... "

Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative. Nonetheless, it is significant that Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared; in other words, before Plame's identity had been published. Fitzgerald has been looking for evidence that Rove spoke to other reporters as well. "Karl Rove has shared with Fitzgerald all the information he has about any potentially relevant contacts he has had with any reporters, including Matt Cooper," Luskin told NEWSWEEK.

The crucial bit here is in the last paragraph: "that Rove was speaking to Cooper before Novak's column appeared". Earlier it was said that he only commented on the issue after the Novak column, which would then have been his source.

So much depends on the prosecutor's guts in this case. We'll see.